Jean-Georges, a three-Michelin-star restaurant regularly considered one of the best in the city, fares pretty well in this review. JG has some good vegetarian options on the menu, and this was the only restaurant (so far) that went out of its way to highlight for the entire table a vegetarian option. I was pleasantly surprised by the vegetarian selections here, which were a step up from the last time I was there.
The menu at Jean-Georges allows you to choose two or three courses. This can be helpful for a vegetarian, because you can “double up” in a category (e.g., two “first courses”), useful when a particular course has no vegetarian selection.
Service was pretty good overall, but JG is docked a bit because our table was not ready. We had a reservation for 1:45 and arrived just a couple of minutes past 1:45. Our table wasn’t ready until after 2:00. I was surprised and a little disappointed; I’ve been to JG before and haven’t had that experience.
The amuse-bouche course was interesting. First up was watermelon and creme fraiche, with a little layer of paprika in between. Paprika! That was unexpected, and great. The paprika contrasted nicely with the cream and the watermelon. Next up was a shot of miso soup with a piece of popcorn in it. It tasted… exactly as you’d expect. Miso+popcorn. It was an interesting combination, though the popcorn gets pretty soggy pretty quickly. Finally we had a dill pickle with pureed pickle on top. I liked the pureed pickle, and appreciated that the piece of pickle itself wasn’t too sour.
As for the meal itself, I started with a tofu salad. This was a new addition to the menu, and our waitress described it in some detail when we arrived. Apparently the silken tofu is made fresh hourly, served with cucumbers and peaches, and is marinated in elderflower syrup. It’s made with scotch bonnets, which gives it a spicy kick that nicely contrasts the sweetness of the fruit and syrup. I’m generally not a huge fan of tofu, but I ordered this because the waitress specifically highlighted it. (If she hadn’t, I would have gotten the beets, which I’ve heard are very good.) I usually like firm tofu, and this was very soft–though that was to be expected. The tofu had an almost custard-like texture, and the dish could have easily passed for dessert. Overall, I was pleased:
For my main course, I had ordered charred corn ravioli, which was served in a “basil fondue”, according to the menu. The ravioli itself was good–not too heavy, and the corn added a fresh, crisp taste.
The sauce was also good, though I don’t know why it was considered a “fondue”; if there was cheese in it, there certainly wasn’t much. I liked the little leaves of micro basil, which gave the dish a bit of brightness.
I played it conservative at dessert, going for “Chocolate”. If you haven’t been to JG, you’ll see that the dessert menu highlights four ingredients. These change seasonally, though “Chocolate” is always an option, and the dessert items all feature the named ingredient. The famous JG flourless chocolate cake didn’t disappoint, the vanilla bean ice cream was as expected, and the chocolate-peanut-butter ganache was a nice touch. But I didn’t like the “milk skin”, and I wasn’t a fan of the carmelized banana. As to the former, I thought it had a weird texture and little flavor; as to the banana, it just didn’t fit with the other desserts. (Sounds weird, I know, because chocolate and bananas are supposed to go well together, but I just wasn’t feeling it.) The banana was served on a “chocolate sable”, which was fine, with cherry pureé, which was very good.
Overall, JG was a very good vegetarian experience. They had several options on the menu and even highlighted one of them (instead of pretending it didn’t exist or was a “lesser” food). That said, the main courses didn’t include any vegetarian fare; the ravioli is actually from the second course section of the menu. (This is another problem we often face: getting something that isn’t a main course, and therefore getting a smaller portion, even though we’re just as hungry as everyone else!) Still, JG is better than average, driven in large part by the tofu starter and the very good ravioli. Minus points for not having a vegetarian third course (what would I have done if I wanted to order three courses in addition to dessert?) and for the delay in seating. Four stars.